Surrounding ourselves with good

the sun shining on our table a few days ago

Over the past few years, I’ve become much more aware of the physical impact of my thoughts on my body, and started to really see how negative thoughts, especially ones that come in the middle of the night, seemed to flood me with uncomfortable physical sensations. Thoughts about what I’m doing wrong, or what someone else is doing wrong, what I don’t like, or what disturbs me, are not only making my relationships harder, they are actually attacks on my body. I also noticed that when I didn’t change those thoughts, I inevitably woke up feeling tired, stiff or sick.

Since we have the power to produce these strong chemicals that can harm us, just by thought, we must also have the ability to produce substances that bring health, nourishment and strength to our cells and our bodies….just by thought. One of the thoughts that works in this positive way for me is: “Everything in my life is exactly as it should be right now.” And sometimes, just repeating the words, “Thank you”, over and over during a difficult time is enough to bring on the feeling of relief. And the feeling of relief is the key.
Something else that helps is having good, uplifting books always available, and Jack and I leave these all over the house as reminders of what we are aspiring to live. There are books in our kitchen, living room, bathroom, on the banister going upstairs, and even on window sills. Sometimes, just opening one up and asking for a helpful word or sentence will be enough to turn me in the right direction.

Angry, hostile thoughts bring about rapid heartbeat, a rise in blood pressure, and flushing of the face, among other changes. Anxious thoughts can also speed up the heart and raise blood pressure, as well as induce tremor of the hand, cold sweat, a knotted stomach, and a pervasive weakening, as when we say a person is “sick with dread.”

Different kinds of thoughts must produce chemical changes in the brain in order to account for such physical manifestations. To quote one researcher, “There is no twisted thought without a twisted molecule.”

Likewise, happy thoughts of all kinds, loving thoughts, thoughts of peace and tranquility, of compassion, friendliness, kindness, generosity, affection, warmth, and intimacy each produce a corresponding state of physiology via the flux of neurotransmitters and hormones in the central nervous system.

The profound physiological changes that happy thoughts induce lead to good health because the neuro-transmitters that mediate them in the body have a stimulating effect”. from Creating Health, by Deepak Chopra

19 thoughts on “Surrounding ourselves with good

  1. Mary, words can hurt and words can heal. The older I get, the more I realize just as you’ve described….I need to find ways to ameliorate my life in relation to the energy surrounding me (which, because I live with someone prone to a behavioral disorder and thus depression as a result of this behaviour can draw a lot of energy out of me, it can also permeate my life if I allow it) and my relationships with one or two in my direct family (which if we are fortunate, is mostly smooth sailing but in all reality can be a bumpy road). I am also at the age where, as my friends say….we are looking to fulfill our ‘bucket list’. For me, it will be the purchase of another puppy; for my good friend, skydiving, which has totally shocked me about her…how did I overlook this in her…I get weak-kneed just looking over the edge of Niagara Falls. The bottom of the glass egg timer is filling with sand more that at the top half so now is the time to try and deal with things prickly things in our lives so that we can deal, with courage and grace, our older years if given to us. Our bodies inevitably start failing and falling apart; it is the mind which we can do something to change and the spirit within us. I search for peace of mind always but like a butterfly landing on flowers, this mind tends to hop from flower to flower and some not very positive flowers at that. It is a good reminder this morning of becoming more mindful, Mary and determine what we are going to allow in our minds and what we are not. Thanks,
    SandyP in Canada

  2. What a timely post for me Mary. I spent much of my morning yesterday feeling rather hostile – and at some point – rather sickened by my ruminations, I decided there was something that I could do about it and “offered it up” to whatever. Immediately I felt better and went about my day in a much happier frame of mind.

    Later in the afternoon, I watched myself become crabby, short tempered and unreasonable. I was overwhelmed with work, physically tired and my feet hurt – so I’m sure I was vulnerable – perhaps it was the cause – who knows…
    I went to bed around 8 o’clock – and woke up around midnight – before I knew it I was obsessing again. Drifting from catastrophic thought to another.

    Finally, I got up and washed the dishes. While standing there it occurred to me that I had wandered from my “True Path” and taken a turn down the old Fear Highway…

    I am surprised by no matter how much I know to be True – how precious and miraculous life is here on this verdant and amazing planet in this mysterious and wondrous universe – still, (at times) I am hijacked by fearful thoughts and small thinking. I guess we never arrive, we can only practice awareness and forgive ourselves and our fellow travelers when we go astray.

    • Lynne, you’ve exactly described how I feel too. It’s wonderful when people can put words into my mind and I can relate totally. I think my mother used to refer to it as the proverbial boot in the arse but she’s gone now and I do seem to enjoy my wallowing at times…until I get disgusted with myself,
      SandyP in Canada

      • Lynne, Sandy, etal – I consider myself so fortunate to have this blog and “our” Mary to see that I am not alone in these ruminations. What a wonderful place to be honest with ourselves. For me, it helps remind me to “pick myself up and start all over again.”

  3. Your post is much appreciated today. Yesterday I was filled with negative thoughts after reading something in the morning by the author of a blog I read daily. This person was cruel and argumentative to another reader who posted a comment that he did not like. He took the low road of attacking and threatening and posting his demeaning comments for all to read. This started an on line argument pitting one group of people against another. It was really depressing and left me feeling anxious and disappointed in a person I had only ever admired. I choose not to be involved in conflict and bitterness. I choose compassion, friendliness, generosity and peace. Thank you Mary for reminding us how the mind effects the body.

  4. Dear Mary, Thank you for your wise words about the power of our thoughts and emotions. There is a wonderful institute…(The Heart Math Institute..www.hearthmath.org) which has done extensive research about the heart and it’s”brain” power……sometimes more powerful than the brain in our head, the heart rules our nervous system. Research has proven that the thoughts and emotions we cultivate affect the heart and it’s ability to affect our state of health. They also have wonderful articles, meditations and other suggestions for learning to listen to our hearts.

  5. You are so right. Some things that have happened lately in our life just get to you, like you said, but we have to realize to be aware of when we have to just go and rest do something that will bring calmness and quietness. For instance, myself I work on making plastic canvas crosses to give away, make knitted facecloths for ourselves, read, do crosswords and a few other things. The expression the young people use today CHILL, that says it all I believe.

  6. Perfect timing for me! Thank you Mary! I woke up this morning feeling a bit ‘off’. Very unusual for me. I was sitting on the back porch talking with my husband and recalled that I was awakened during the night by what sounded like neighbors in the distance having an argument. I asked if he heard it? (Silly question as he sleeps through anything!). Sounds and voices carry in the valley where we live but I kinda suspected who it was…I said a quick prayer for them and, remarkably, went back to sleep. When I awoke again a short time later, I listened for quiet. And all was quiet…but they, or rather, their conflict, was on my mind. But I did fall back to sleep. And woke up with that “off” feeling. My husband and I went on to discuss an upcoming trip and then I headed for my tea and WFF! But the first thing I read was a note from a friend sharing some good news! I could feel the ‘off’ feeling drain right out of my body, replaced by light and joy seemingly pulsating right through me! It just booted the uneasiness right in the butt! And then I read your blog! Thank you! I love this!

  7. I wonder why it is so hard to lay our burdens down. We know they are gnawing in the corners of our mind, distracting us from being truly present to the Source of all well being, – I guess like every thing worth achieving, it takes daily practice. I love all the books I keep near my bedside – daily meditations, books of poetry, (most especially enjoyed Wendell Berry yesterday), Thich Nhat Hanh, Mary Oliver, Jane Kenyon. I find poetry to be intensely soothing, like a good arrow that pierces the cloud of angst we carry around. Breathe, release, and repeat what one member of our flock shared some months back (thank you, whoever it was!) “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” ~ Julian of Norwich

  8. Norman Cousins wrote a book years ago about the power of the positive emotions and laughter to heal the body. My brother-in-law, Dan, and my sister, Connie, are engaged in a chronic health challenge which will be ongoing (Parkinson’s Plus). My sister who is experiencing the challenge of her husband’s health problem says they are reading Norman Cousins, Bernie Siegel’s “Love, Medicine, & Miracles”, watching funny movies, exercising their bodies at the gym and their spirits with love, faith, and hope for “Spontaneous Healing” (Andrew Weil).

    • Mary Rita, when my then-husband had prostate cancer, we relied on much of Bernie Siegel’s excellent advice. I can honestly say that he made the road much easier.

      Good luck to your sister and her husband; I hope they have the same experience that we did. My ex has been cancer-free now for fifteen years, and just returned from a trip to Greenland! Blessings…

  9. looks like a lot of us here needed the same medicine today. thank you mary and all for your responses. i live alone, except for my good cat boy, and i find myself talking aloud to myself while going about my routines. i need to clean up that self-talk; this will help. i know the mantras, i require this of myself. i cherish the inspiration and humor i find on wwf.

  10. I always gain sustenance from your posts, Mary, as well as a sense of amazement when so many of the WFF responses seem like they’re coming right out of my own head. I don’t know why I always think I am the only one who feels a certain way. And no matter how many wonderful, uplifting books I have read (poetry, affirmations and the like), I still seem to slip back into the old ways of getting a fearful thought and then allowing it to take me over like a parasite entering my body.

    It makes me feel less ‘unevolved’ when I see some of the Flock still struggling with this, as well. However, getting long in the tooth has given me one gift: I now can recognize,a bit faster, when I’m headed off the cliff and can turn myself around a bit easier. You and our WFF have helped me to do that. Thanks to each of you. I’m blessed to have you in my cyber-life.

    • Suzanne, you took the words out of my mouth and my heart. Thank you for your expression. Does the phrase “birds of a feather flock together” fit for all of us? For me, it does create a oneness and the realization that I am NOT the only one who experiences the various things that Mary shows us are universal.

  11. Hi Mary, I keep Debra Saum’s “Animal Talk” and “Whistling Woman”,the poetry of Mary Kellogg close at hand for a soothing moment when I’m feeling “off”.
    Cindy

  12. Hello Mary, Thank you for the timely post. I’m struggling with a difficult person and this post is most helpful. God bless you. Susan

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